Because the Baltimore Ravens will play in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2 against the Chicago Bears, they will compete in five preseason games this season. What does a fifth preseason game bring for the Ravens? Let’s break it down.
1. Lots of Lamar Jackson
Being a first-round pick, Lamar Jackson was already going to play a lot in the preseason. The Ravens want to see what Jackson can or can’t do on the field early. Once the regular season begins and Joe Flacco takes over as the starter, the coaching staff will know what they want to work on with Jackson, while finding ways to get him on the field in special packages.
Over the last two years, Flacco dealt with several injuries that held him out of seven combined preseason games. He’s healthy now and enters a crucial season, but the Ravens will play Flacco sparingly over the preseason. In fact, the Ravens typically hold out Flacco for all but one drive of the first preseason game and the entire fourth preseason game. Teams typically don’t play their starters in the Hall of Fame game, so Jackson will probably start in Canton.
Jackson’s chance to put on a show:
Giving Jackson the start will allow the Ravens to get a prolonged look at their first-round quarterback. Jackson will mainly play with second-team players, both in the Hall of Fame game and in his other preseason appearances, but these players will be fighting for roster spots. This makes for a competitive atmosphere, which will benefit both Jackson and the coaching staff.
While the Ravens will also want to look at both Robert Griffin III and Josh Woodrum, Jackson’s preseason snaps are the most important. If Jackson struggles or gets hurt, the Ravens could get forced into keeping three quarterbacks on the roster. This is a problem the team does not want to have. The Ravens do not want to overwhelm Jackson this preseason, but he will receive plenty of playing time throughout the Ravens’ five preseason game slate.